Thursday, 11 September 2014

re: Misogyny Missive: Red Dead Sexism

Since the author of the post doesn't like my comment, I'm forced to post it here
From this:

#GamerGate continues.

"This is the kicker right here. These moments of violence against women are distractions from the main gam — a minor roadblock meant to add a sense of "realism" to the world."

There's nothing wrong with exposition, textures, models, etc., in fleshing out a game world.

"However, women are never truly empowered in Red Dead Redemption."

Considering it's a story about John, that's irrelevant. This isn't "Red Dead Talk About Women's Issues Redemption." It's about John and his. Saving women is part of that, if you want it to be.

"Recently, before Anita's latest video, I was wondering if there was perhaps another reason I didn't feel like replaying the game. I then remembered that the women who were major players in the plot suffered terrible brutalities as well."

Sounds like your brain has been infiltrated by feminist nonsense. You don't feel like playing a cowboy, riding a horse, in a redemption story in the wild west because women -- who were major players in the plot -- suffered terrible brutalities as well? As well as...the men? 'Cause you can at minimum triple the count of brutalities that occur to the men, even the non-plot related ones, and the death and pain they encounter.

Be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground when you start feeling bad about that.

"When Jack Marston, John's son, takes over the post-game narrative, Abigail has died from a long illness, making every single prominent woman in the game the equivalent of damaged goods...which is fitting, given how all of the women are essentially objects in the overall scheme of the game... one way or another."

So raped women = damaged goods = women are objects? What? John's wife was an object? John's family was the point he was motivated into saving, that is, he was trying to redeem himself from his past life of crime, while trying to keep his family out of his current means of doing so. Things came to a point, and he sacrificed himself at the end to save them.

If women are essentially objects, so are horses, stage coaches, and every other semi-interactive object in the game.

"So, Anita's video reminded me of all this misogyny lurking within RDR, and now makes me wonder if I really should replay it. Thus the difficulty of criticism. I liked the game, but I am repulsed by its use of women as narrative objects instead of being, you know, human beings. As Anita states in her video:"

Thus the difficulty with biased, nonsensical feminist criticism.

Repeat after me: there's nothing wrong with pain, death, or other such negative things, in art. Would you rather there be no women to save? No women at all to talk about or see?

Or would you like their death count to equal that of the men? 50/50?

"These women and their bodies are sacrificed in the name of infusing “mature themes” into gaming stories. But there is nothing mature about flippantly evoking shades of female trauma. It ends up sensationalizing an issue which is painfully familiar to a large percentage of women on this planet while also normalizing and trivializing their experiences."

So it's mature, but it's not mature, because she says so? Wanting to protect and help your family isn't mature? Trying to help women from being killed isn't mature? Shades of female what? How about those boatloads of men you mow down every 20 minutes? Who cares why random men/women were killed for various reasons? Some are killed -- if the player doesn't intervene. The context is key to what's going on in a sandbox environment, and why the player should be bothered. Is the entire town evil? Is everyone in the game? Or do you want to just go rope down some horses? Is John the last bastion of what's good and bad in the world? You can choose to help them or not, or have fun. That's the game. You can't expect giant expositions on every random event dealing with "issue X of my crusade" because feminism.

And there's nothing wrong with the depiction men or women in states of helplessness, and allowing the player to help them. That's a good thing. If you want sexism or misogyny in games to make a statement? You're going to need a lot more sexism and misogyny.

If Anita was a member of PETA and talking about the treatment of horses, it'd the same shoddy, nonsensical entitled hogwash.

"It's not edgy just to throw women under the proverbial bus. It would truly be mature to not swipe from Hollywood's "adult-oriented" bag of tricks, and instead question or critique our society's standards of gender in less "shocking" ways."

It's the wild west. Grow up. Also, say the same for the multitude of men that have been thrown under the "proverbial bus".

"I'm still trying to untangle the implications of Anita's video towards my enjoyment of video games, but I am feeling fairly confident that Red Dead Redemption, for everything it does right, made some very poor narrative decisions that will haunt my desire to ever replay it to completion again. I will still likely enjoy its excellent gameplay and exploring its open-world spin on the American West, but I will definitely not relish its disappointing, cliched portrayal of women that plagues our industry."

Don't bother: she's a biased, lying, opportunist. If she's impacting your enjoyment of a video game, you've already lost.
 EDIT: I got a response

And here's mine
"A) I am a feminist. So saying that my "brain has been infiltrated by feminist nonsense" is sort of ironic."

Ironically accurate?

"Also, feminist criticism is, as much as you'd prefer it not to be, a legitimate form of criticism well regarded in academic circles. You may not like it, but that does not diminish its importance."

Which academic circles would those be? Last I checked, feminism was just an offshoot of socialism. I'd love to see what kind of brilliant minds occupy those ivory towers.

"B) The point I'm making here is that women in RDR are incapable of defending themselves. All of the men John guns down have the capability to fight back. The women don't. That's why Anita (and myself) are critiquing the game's handling of women. You want to argue that men die a lot more often in the game, but that's not the issue at hand here. I'm not saying women need to die in equal amounts to men; I'm saying that women ought to be able to do as much as men. That's the difference."

Just re-read your article. Sorry, didn't see that at all. Where is it?

If the women fought back, and won, the player wouldn't have anything to do, making the whole scene irrelevant. Aside from a moment of comedy, no game designer would actively want to do this.
If the women fought back, and lost, then you'd be whining that women aren't strong enough/gender bias/sexism/misandry/LMNOP; oh, like you are now.

Yes, that is the issue. Men DO die a lot more in that game. But you're so focused on the women, that you didn't notice the hordes of men that die by the PLAYERS hands.

The player. As in, John. The guy you're playing. Which is the point of RDR game. To play a western. Not to cater to your bias. Again, you could be a PETA member and whine about the treatment horses, and you'd have the same inane argument.

NPCs, window dressing, things that color the world, are not the focus. Be thankful you even get to interact and SAVE women! My god! Saving women is so bad! Again this is not "Red Dead Strong-Female-NPC Redemption." Stop being an entitled baby and whining about this or that NPC not being your idea of what a woman is!

"C) Anita may have influenced my thoughts here, but she is not the arbiter of my reactions. I was thinking of these issues before the video was released; Anita merely gave me an impetus to consider it further."

And further down the insanity hole you go.

"D) I'm 31. I've grown up plenty. No need for petty insults. It undermines your argument."

I'm making observations. What petty insults?

'E) Ditto with calling Anita a " biased, lying, opportunist".'

Would you like proof of Anita being biased (feminist, doesn't respond to criticism), lying ("not a gamer Sarkeesian", and soon to be, lying about contacting the police), an opportunist (pro-victim card at every turn, 150k+ with no accounting or increase in quality.)

See, these are not ad hominem statements. These are observations. I'm not attacking her character. She's done that herself.

'F) You state that "there's nothing wrong with pain, death, or other such negative things, in art. Would you rather there be no women to save? No women at all to talk about or see?" That again is not the point.'

What is the point? What is the point of art? I can tell you one of the points of what RDR is trying to be, but you don't seem to care.

"You're acting like RDR is a perfect recreation of the American West. It's not."

Never said it was. I don't even think it ever said it was. It's fiction -- art. Deal with it.

"I've worked in a museum for three and a half years that focuses on the history of the Gold Rush. I have access to tons of books, files and newspapers from the 1850s. RDR is a Hollywood-inspired tale of the West, and it shows in how it handles women. If there were women who had the same agency as men, I'd be less likely to complain. And that's what I'm trying to say here."

Well, la-di-dah, museum person. Who said RDR was a "perfect recreation of the American West" aside from you? Sounds like you wanted it to be that, instead of the game it was trying to be. Guess what? It's not. It's. FICTION!

But if a game designer, a developer, and a writer, walk into a bar (saloon), and want to make a game that's fun to play, and a story about a man's redemption in the Wild West, that can save some damsels if they feel like it, and it's not about some petty observation about NPCs? You get RDR.


  1. Rhonda from GameOnGirl here.
    I really, really appreciate your comments, Stefan. And I agree with most of what you're saying.

    I'm really sorry you couldn't post your comments on our blog. I've made sure to link to your post here so our readers have access.

    I would definitely not add Jerry's opinion piece to GamerGate. GamerGate doesn't deserve that much power. At most, this is one guy's musings. All the writers on our site are independent. We're not organized enough to have a 'press room' so all the writer's voices are independent. We like it that way because no one is really censored. Including me. :)

    I played RDR and loved it. Brilliant game. The game is a story about John and I don't know why there has to be female empowerment in it. It doesn't belong. Forcing any social correctness, to me, is censorship and destroys a story teller's creativity. You don't have to split hairs to find true misogyny.

    I do not agree with Anita's conclusions. I think she takes leaps to come to her conclusions and, in general, is unfair to game developers.

    One of the things that bothers me about these conversations is the casual use of the word 'misogyny.'

    - the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

    This is a serious charge that accuses someone of a conscious conviction. Having all tragic female characters does not make the story teller a misogynist. In fact it's the opposite. Why do the RDR creators do this? Because they know it invokes sympathy and indignation from the audience. Everybody is on the same page. Saying that the creators like to see women mistreated because they mistreat women in the storyline negates the gamer, which is what Anita does consistently. The creator knows that half of their story is completed by the gamer. We 'all' feel indignant at mistreatment of other human beings and they are giving us an opportunity to shoot it or punch it in the face.

    I wish you'd stopped your article about five paragraphs sooner. Saying "shoddy, nonsensical entitled hogwash" is inflammatory. Anita is a thorough researcher and very articulate. Her conclusions are just wrong. The biggest crime is that feminists herald it without question. Is Anita biased? I think so, but I think 'lying' and 'opportunist' makes it look like GamerGate is 'impacting your' clearly articulate and sensible thoughts.

    Thanks again for commenting. I loved reading your post.

  2. Anita is thorough is to say she can use the search field in for "women", and download Let's Plays. Did she interview anyone? Did her rants about sexism involve talking to the creators of games who are part of the Patriarchy?

    Anita is biased is true. She provides no answers or suggestions to her observations, and if you don't agree with her conclusions, you're a sexist. (words: shoddy & hogwash.)
    "Denying or dismissing the sexism that permeates our culture is, in and of itself, a form of sexism."

    Anything sex related is bad -- or at least, female sex or sexuality. No account for how this relates to male sex or gender, or mention of how the men or males in games have similar if not identical tropes, and the level of violence/death of men. No talk about how the biology and behavior of people throughout time creates a culture of such behavior, or how art is an expression of an artist. No solutions; just entitled opinions.

    Anita takes things out of context, display them as "art as spectacle" in some modern display to show "problematic" things, without explanation. (Maybe they are? We don't know!)

    I don't know what a culture critic is, or how analyzing the games for patterns is going to make future games better. Why is aggregating observations of women in gaming relevant? She can use her eyes, but not her brain to explain what is actually there, why we should care, or what context these events fall under in gaming and storytelling mean. Instead, she falls back in some sort of "women being hurt is misogyny" explanation. Sure?

    Does this relate to reality? She brings it up, but so what? Do we care? How? How does that relate to saving princessess in fiction, and "problematic"?

    "Paradoxically, and somewhat ironically, those who most strongly believe that media is just harmless entertainment, are also the ones most likely to uncritically internalize harmful media messages.”
    “In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected."

    What? She's implying because you're reading or playing something, you're a woman hater, even when you openly state you're not (because research, without providing any evidence.)

    So do games cause sexism? If you don't think no, you're sexist. Thanks #femfreq for clearing that up.

    (And if not...what's her point?)

    -Anita "not a gamer" Sarkeesian is a liar and professional victim (looks like she's lying about being a victim/reporting to the police.)
    -She does not respond to criticism, making her beyond reproach.
    -Her research is surface-level nonsense. (
    -She does not understand the tropes, or the games she supposedly says she has played. (Basic type-token fallacies.)
    -She is not a gamer, nor a critic of games or storytelling in games.
    -She takes her (aggregated) examples out of context.
    -She is the Jack Thompson of feminism, and shills her pro. victim card to the bank.
    -If you don't agree with her, you're a sexist/misogynist. (As is talking to nearly every person who agrees with Anita, and how they treat you.)

    A simple google search for "Anita Sarkeesian" + "fraud", "lier", "scam", etc. will produce plenty of results over the years.
    So far, this is the latest:

    Anita's a sad snowflake like her followers and not to be taken seriously in any intellectual light.

    1. "-She is the Jack Thompson of feminism, and shills her pro. victim card to the bank."

      Calling her a mainstream feminist is already a wild assumption:

      "-If you don't agree with her, you're a sexist/misogynist. (As is talking to nearly every person who agrees with Anita, and how they treat you.)"

  3. You and I agree. I hope you see that. I don't even consider Sarkeesian a valid or constructive source for a conversation about sexism in gaming. That's a difference between Jerry and I. It's brave that he posts his musings online for rebuttal and that's exactly what he should expect. I certainly do.

    So if we eliminate the "biased, lying, opportunist" who are in this for notoriety and and profit (yes, I agree they exist), do you believe there is any valid, online abuse of women and/or minorities?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. "do you believe there is any valid, online abuse of women and/or minorities? "

      You do realize that #GameGate will have to deal with more than the gaming journalists, in order to have some academic standards, right?

      When not even the sexual assault statistics can be done properly, and the opportunist ignore this fact on purpose so they can rally people into harassing others (because clearly, who would DARE to speak against the "fact" that women are harassed?), we cannot even remotely start asking that question even when #GamerGate finishes with the trash on the gaming industry.

      #GamerGate would have to use the momentum to clean the Academia and prevent this shit from happening:

      And lets not even get started on how to deal with false reports.

      There is too much noise. We cannot make out the message.

      Filtering is required for any sane person to make an informed choice.